Charlene Collins stared in disbelief at the figure that now stood before her in the lab. It appeared to be Charlie Pace, her deceased father. The figure smiled.

“Do you know who I am?” the figure asked, in an echoic voice.

Charlene nodded.

“Then who am I?”

“You’re Charlie Pace,” Charlene replied, “the dead father I never met. You know me?”

“The daughter I never met,” It replied.

“And how do you know all this?” Charlene asked, with a hint of anger.

It laughed, “I’m dead you know! When you’re dead you tend to know all kinds of things!”

“You’re an hallucination, that’s all” Charlene replied, “just a figment of my imagination, all because of this magnetic mind trip I find myself in!”

“Am I an hallucination?” It replied, “and if I were, what difference would it make? Apparently, you have a desire to see me, to talk with me, so here I am.”

“Why would I want to see you?” Charlene said, “you don’t care. You never did! You used my mom as a prop for your ego. That’s all. She was just another one night stand for you and I just happened to be the result! So please, just go away.”

“I won’t argue your point,” It replied, “because you’re right. Your mum, in fact all the birds back then, were just props for my ego. I was a Rock Star for bloody sakes! I won’t apologize for that. It goes with the territory but your mum was also a happy volunteer. Hell, she followed us around for months.

Charlene, we all make decisions. I made one. Your mum made one. Then you came along and I wasn’t there for you, but your mum was. And I’d say she did one hell of a job raising you!”

“Oh, gee thanks, “Dad”!” Charlene muttered.

“Dad!” It smiled, “I kinda like that.”

“Oh, please,” Charlene uttered, “don’t go there!”

Charlene then realized she was arguing with an hallucination at the least and a ghost at the most!

“Why are we even having this conversation?” Charlene tiredly asked.

“I don’t know,” It answered, “you tell me. But I suspect you’ve always wanted this conversation, longed for this conversation, and now you have it!

Listen love, this field I’m in won’t last much longer, so I’ve got to be quick. Since I’ve been gone, I’ve had to face all my sins. Believe me, there were plenty! And now I have to face you. I’m really sorry, Charlene. Sorry that circumstances couldn’t of turned out different for your mum and me. Sorry I couldn’t of been a real Dad for you, or any kind of Dad at all, for that matter. But it didn’t happen.

I never used to believe in fate, but shortly before I died, I realized life was all about fate! It just wasn’t meant for you to have me around as your Dad. Why? I don’t know. But I do want you to know I would have been very proud of you as my daughter!”

Charlene began to sob, “You’re just my own self telling me what I want to hear!”

“Since when did you get a Psychology degree, dear?” It laughed, “Well love, I’ve gotta go. Even when you’re dead, you’re still in demand! Oh, one more thing!”

Charlene stopped sobbbing.

“Your Uncle has been given an envelope,” It said, “along with an ultimatum! But things aren’t exactly what they seem! There is another ultimatum and it’s the one that’s putting your life in danger! I hope you realize you are not going to be set free!”

“And what can I do about that?” Charlene asked.

“Oh, there will be opportunities,” It answered.

“Opportunities for what?!” Charlene asked.

“Opportunities to kill,” It replied, “so you can live!”

As he started to fade away, Charlene could barely hear the last words he had for her.

“Always remember, I love you!”

Charlene started to smile but quickly stopped. After all, he had once told her mother the same thing.

Next: Chap. Fourteen “Once an Addict”

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